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Concern over a Ship


Aspiring Commoner
Sent by the Bwot

Antzorg and I found this peculiar ship at 2640 4778, near Arassalath in Gondor.
Two things which I considered strange: It's wheel and the strange boats in front of it. See attached.

Firstly, are those little boats out front supposed to be tug boats? If so, that is quite impractical. From my knowledge, tugs as we know them today were used only after the invention of artificial power (in the form of steam). I don't believe there's a practical way to pull a larger ship such as the one pictured with... two small, oared boats.

Secondly, the ship's wheel is facing backwards. Now I confess, I initially thought 'what on earth', but yes, apparently a backwards wheel is possible and it was my own ignorance at fault. On the most primitive 'wheeled' ships, a simple worm gear was used in addition to the tiller, which of course required the wheel to face backwards. Such a setup was replaced in the main in the later stages of sailed ships, but some retained this backwards-facing setup.

In conclusion, not to insult the great boat builders of MCME, but the tug boats are a little silly in my view. Perhaps I'm wrong, but they make no sense.

I don't mean to make a big fuss but BWOT sent me here, so blame him :) :) :)



Hardcore MCME-er
The little boats are indeed supposed to be tug boats. I added them because the ship is going upriver and there is another boat, a little down, sailing south on a broad reach. So the ship couldn't be sailing into Arassalath and needed external propulsion. Ships would use small boats (which they usually had multiple of) to move them along rivers, if the wind/current was wrong or they could not be towed from land. They would also sometimes use them in harbors to get off the dock, not setting sails until they were in less congested water. Feel free to get rid of the dinghies if you want but then I think it will look even more strange. Perhaps it would be more believable if the boats were longer and had more spots for oars.

As for the wheel, I would not say that only "primitive" ships used this design although it cannot be denied that they were rare by the 19th century. This setup is occasionally referred to as the "captain's coffin." Most importantly, the tall ship on which I have sailed had one so I decided it would be fun to give this ship one as well. I will also add that, according to the crew of that ship, you always steer from the side of the wheel instead of standing directly behind it (like on a modern yacht), even if the wheel is mounted on a post without any mechanism.

The thing that I consider strange about this ship is what it is doing there in the first place. It seems maybe too big to go up a river and it can't even dock. Not to mention the irritating presence of unsecured cargo on deck. But I was just an artist at the time and it was not for me to question why the ship was placed there.


Aspiring Commoner
Thanks for your wisdom.
I was just surprised as I couldn't find any info on pre-revolution tug boats, and to my eyes the 10-12 people who could fit on those tug boats wouldn't be enough to tug the ship, but perhaps not. Indeed after further reading I realise such ships did, as you say, use smaller boats as primitive tugs, but I feel they'd be larger.

As you say, it might be better if the ship itself had oar-holes rather than the tugs, but that'd require quite an extensive re-design. Also, I'm unsure in which period in history (if any) MCME is basing it's ships off - rarely did cargo ships in the so called 'Age of Sail' have oars, but beforehand it was far more common (ancient times).

In terms of the wheel, primitive was the wrong word. Perhaps you are right too about the ship itself. I realise Cargo Schooners and the like often did sail up rivers, but they were of a different design to the boat pictured.

Whatever the solution, I am sure someone more important than I can figure it out xP